The Centre has asked Karnataka to consider taking the CBI's help to investigate illegal mining in the state, an issue that was taken up by Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa himself with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh last week.
In a letter to Yeddyurappa, Union Mines Minister B K Handique said that Karnataka could take the assistance of the Centre for investigating various incidents of illegal mining in the state.
"For these purposes, central agencies such as the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) are also available, and their expertise can be effectively utilised," Handique said in the letter, dated July 1.
It is for the third time since November 2009 that the Mines Ministry has asked the state government to rein in the menace of illegal mining, especially of iron ore.
He said reports on iron ore theft "in utter disregard for the law of the land shows that the illegal mining mafia in Karnataka needs to be tackled without any further delay."
Handique said the steps were urgently needed "to avoid a complete breakdown in the regulatory system at the field level in your government".
He also took a dig at the BJP government, stating that "these developments are likely to have multi-sectoral ramifications with regard to the quality of governance".
Yeddyurappa had written a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday, seeking a ban on export of iron ore to effectively curb illegal mining. India had exported about 106 million tonnes of iron ore in the last fiscal.
Karnataka is a mineral-rich state with estimated reserves of about 9,000 million tonnes, or 11 per cent, of the country's hematite iron ore deposits. The state is a major exporter of the mineral.
Illegal mining has emerged as a major political issue in Karnataka, with three ministers in the Yeddyurappa government -- Bellary district mining magnates Janaradhana Reddy, Karunakara Reddy and Sriramulu -- facing charges of illegal mining, which they have denied.